Comparative Negligence in Massachusetts

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is a modified comparative negligence state, meaning drivers can recover part of their damages as long as they are less than 51% at fault. 
Depending on your state, the comparative negligence laws will have a great effect on how much damage you can claim following an accident. To ensure that your insurance claims are handled properly, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the laws in the state you are driving it.
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What is comparative negligence?

Comparative negligence is a discipline that governs the percentage of damage claims that the parties involved can recover based on their assigned fault.
For example, if you are assigned 30% of the fault after getting into an accident with another driver, you will be responsible for covering 30% of the damages. The other driver will then be responsible for damages based on the percentage of fault they are assigned.
The comparative negligence principles are followed by personal injury lawsuits and third-party insurance claims when assessing cases. A portion of blame is assigned to all parties involved based on the evidence collected. The percentage they receive is the percentage of damage claims they are paying for as per
Massachusetts car accident laws

Comparative negligence vs. contributory negligence

The three categories of comparative negligence are pure comparative negligence, partial or modified comparative negligence, and contributory negligence. Depending on the state, the law will follow one of the principles listed below: 
  • Pure comparative negligence: As long as you are assigned any percentage of blame, you will be responsible for covering that percentage of damage costs. 
  • Partial or modified comparative negligence: Drivers can only claim damages from the other party if they are assigned under 50 or 51%. 
  • Contributory negligence: The injured party cannot recover any damage costs unless they are assigned zero fault. 
Currently, 12 states follow pure comparative negligence and 5 states follow contributory negligence.

What is Massachusetts’ comparative negligence law? 

Massachusetts state laws follow the modified comparative negligence discipline. This means that you will only be allowed to make a claim if you are less than 51% at fault
As an example, if you are assigned 52% fault, you will not be entitled to submit a damages claim to the other driver’s insurance provider. On the other hand, the other driver will be able to submit a claim to your insurance since they are 49% at fault.

What happens if there are more than two responsible parties? 

In an accident involving more than two drivers, the fault will be divided among all the drivers involved. As long as you have less than 50% fault, you can file a claim with either or both insurance companies. Your compensation will be calculated based on the fault assigned to each driver. 

How is fault decided in a comparative negligence case?

When assigning fault, the insurance companies will consider all the evidence submitted with the claim.
It would be beneficial to write down as much detail of the scene as possible before submitting your claim. Important information includes the road and weather conditions, time and date, and the
make and model
of the cars in the accident. You should also try to get the information of the other drivers as well.
If you see any potential witnesses, try to record their testimony and take photos of any damages. These details will help strengthen your claim and help the insurers more accurately assign the fault.

How does car insurance work with comparative negligence? 

Since Massachusetts is a modified comparative negligence state, a claim for damages can only be submitted to another driver’s insurance company if you are less than 51% at fault. Your compensation will be proportional to the percentage of fault the other driver is assigned.
For example, you’re driving on the highway and there’s a car trying to weave through traffic. They end up merging into your lane behind you and end up hitting your bumper. 
Once the insurance companies assessed the evidence submitted, they found that the other driver was speeding and
driving recklessly
. However, they also found that you were driving too slow, which increased your chances of getting hit. As a result, the insurance companies assign the other driver 60% fault and you 40% fault.
Under Massachusetts’ modified comparative negligence law, you will be able to claim 60% of your damages, whereas the other driver cannot make any claims.

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Yes. Having an at-fault accident on your record can lead to a 20% increase in your insurance premiums. This is because premiums are calculated based on your demographics, car, driving record, and more.
By Tiffany Leung
Expert Insurance Writer
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear.
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